I met Dick Gallagher in 1983 after being hired as a sports producer at WKBW-TV. I had interviewed Gallagher on his take on the upcoming high school football season which is something Dick did more and better than than anyone else. However, Dick Gallagher did much more than talk, Dick Gallagher was the face of high school football in Section Six and his quest to promote the athletes and coaches in the sport will never be matched.

Dick Gallagher created his monthly publication named Western New York High School Sports in 1983 because he felt the coverage for high school sports was lacking. Gallagher then became the go-to resource for all WNY sports reporters seeking information on the top teams and players for decades.

On any given Friday or Saturday Dick Gallagher would be seen on the sidelines of multiple high school football games, a sign to those in the stands that the game had significance. More importantly, the players knew Gallagher’s presence meant what they were doing was important.

Gallagher also created a huge end of the season awards banquet for high school football players, an event I served as MC for multiple times. I’ve be a part of several “long” dinners over my career, but few longer than the marathon affairs Dick organized due to the hundreds of trophies and awards Dick handed out. Dick sought financial support from sponsors and then reached into his own pocket to cover the difference.

In the 1990’s I utilized Dick Gallagher’s expertise on the newly formed Empire Sports Network and Gallagher’s appearances increased as the network grew over the decade. Gallagher became a fixture on the Friday night High School Sports Report and later the nightly Empire Sports Report and Fan-TV.

Dick Gallagher was also one of the first individuals we recruited to be a part of the Ilio DiPaolo Scholarship committee in 1996. Dick was very familiar with high school wrestling as well, having had sons and grandson’s in the sport. When Dick gave a perspective wrestling scholarship candidate his endorsement it went along way with the committee.

Dick’s involvement with high school athletics was a passion and in a sense a hobby, but his work combating drug and alcohol addiction was his true calling. Gallagher was appointed director of rehabilitation services for the Buffalo Area Council on Alcoholism in 1970 and executive director of Alcohol and Drug Dependency Services in 1984.

Gallagher then became associated with WGRZ-TV through the Kids Escaping Drugs annual telethon and in 1990 championed the creation of the teenager treatment center “Renaissance House” in West Seneca.

Dick Gallagher fought for so many, but had his own battles as well. In 1994 Dick lost his own daughter Christine, in part due to alcoholism, an irony that was not lost on Gallagher. It drove him even harder to seek resources and facilities to help others.

As local media’s resources diminished over the past two decades Dick still managed to continue his promotion of high school sports, first through WGRZ-TV’s high school website and lately teaming up with Frank Wolf and WNY Athletics.

Over the past several years Dick was diagnosed with cancer and he battled that insidious disease like everything else in his life. However, each time it appeared Dick had the upper hand the prognosis changed.

Unfortunately the Covid pandemic forced the DiPaolo Scholarship committee to vote by email back in March, robbing us an opportunity to see Dick one more time. I discussed his nominations for the scholarship candidates by phone and while his voice was weak, his passion for his choices remained strong. Dick evaluated the credentials of each and every wrestler on our list as only he could after nearly forty years of covering the performances of Section Six’s top athletes.

I’ve had the opportunity to meet and know some great people over my career, but few can match the passion and commitment to the youth and young adults of our community than Dick Gallagher. I will greatly miss him, but I will certainly not be alone.

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